Tuesday, June 10, 2014

[Book Review] Trafficked: The Diary Of A Sex Slave

"My Name is Elena and I used to be a human being. Now I am a sex slave. If you are reading this diary, then I am either dead or I have managed to escape."

Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave by Sibel Hodge. This is the first time I have finished an entire book in just one sitting. This is a 96 pages novella, written in the form of diary entries.

Having stumbled upon this novella by accident while checking on other books on Amazon, I clicked on the first page to read using the "Look inside" feature. Immediately, the very first sentence of the novella got me deeply engaged and within minutes, I could not get my eyes off the book.


Elena, a 22 year-old widow have been promised of a well-paying job at a Casino by her best friend. Lured by the prospect of earning good money, she left her elderly mother and four year-old daughter, Liliana for Italy in the hopes of a better life. However, never would she have expected that a much more brutal hell awaits her.

Betrayed by her best friend, she was kidnapped, sold, beaten and used brutally as a sex slave by the men who own her. Held captive in a brothel, the traffickers had threatened to kill her family if she ever try to escape. She was utterly broken and hurt, but for safety of her elderly mother and daughter, she had to stay strong as she waited for her chance to escape.

My Thoughts

Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave, a fictional novella created by Sibel Hodge to increase awareness of the sex trafficking industry throughout the world. Inspired by real victims' accounts and research into the sex trafficking industry, Sibel Hodge has successfully put together a very powerful novella that will definitely move the hearts of thousands or even millions in the world.

I started reading this novella with the impression of a true story. But it turns out to be fictional. Nevertheless, it is still a very gripping and heart-breaking story that could easily becomes the story of the thousands of women who have been trafficked around the globe every year.

Although the subject is highly sensitive and devastating, this is actually a very well-written and straightforward story. I really love Hodge's approach of choosing to write this novella in the form of a diary, which enables me to relate to Elena easily.

Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave is a diary secretly kept by Elena, a young woman who was not very much educated but was taught a little English by her father. I really think that Hodge did a great job in keeping everything written in the novella simple but honest. Instead of trying to impress her readers with her amazing language skills, she have chosen to keep the focus on the subject itself and wrote in the most basic English. It was a very easy and emotional read.

Everything written in the novella feels so realistic. I could relate to Elena easily. As Hodge narrates, I could picture every images in my mind as though I was Elena. I could feel her anxiety, her distress, her worries, her hopelessness and her fears while reading through the pages. Pages after pages I flipped, I find myself starting to care and pray for Elena. It was stupid but I just could not help.

I like the main character, Elena. She never loses hope and faith despite all the horrific ordeals she had been through. Her daughter, Liliana is her source of strength and the only reason why she is still alive. Her love for her family is the only thing that kept her life going.

"I am one of the lucky ones who have managed to escape. There are thousands out there who have not."

I am glad that this novella actually ends with a happy ending. Eventually, Elena was able to regain her freedom, reunite with Liliana, and start a brand new life. However, in reality, how many of the others who have been trafficked are able to escape and enjoy a happy ending like Elena. I believe there are not many.

"Now, when I look into the mirror, I have dead eyes too."

Many of the victims died, either from beatings, abuses, suicides or even sex diseases. For others who may have survived, they are left all broken. A happy ending? I believe most of them would have forgotten what it is like to be happy. Their souls were dead, their body were stained and their life were completely ruined. It became a scar of their life that will never heal forever. I feel extremely disgusted, heart-broken and angry with the traffickers who have destroyed the victims. What gives them the right to take away and control another's life? I hope the law will punish them severely.

Why Sex Trafficking Happens?

Some of you might ask why does sex trafficking happens in the first place? Well, I would say the basic economics theories of demand and supply applies here. Just like drugs and arms trafficking, sex slavery would not have existed if the demand for it is not present.

Where there is demand, there will always be supply. This is especially true when sex trafficking remains a high-profit, low risk underworld business across the globe.

Human trafficking, despite being the second largest and fast-growing criminal illicit industry in the world, has a relatively lower risk of getting caught and prosecuted. Hundred of thousands of young women of young women vanished every year and find themselves forced by violence into the multi-billion industry of modern slavery. Yet, unlike drugs or arms trafficking, human trafficking are rarely seen reported in new due to a number of factors.

"He told me that he assume I was a willing participant who enjoy sex - that I chose this profession. He thought I was earning most of the money that the massage parlor charged, which is £50 for half an hour, or maybe I was attracted by the lure of good money."

Yes, one of the reason why human trafficking remains unreported is partly due to the assumptions that the people usually made about others. We assumed that we know what the others are thinking and doing all the time. Too often, we tend to judge others based on the assumptions we made. It may not be true, but still, we chose to believe what we thought it should be.

Just like what it was narrated in Elena's diary where one of her client, Jamie, has always assumed that she was a willing participant in the sex industry. Jamie has seen her as a woman who either enjoy having sex with dozen of different men everyday or was just attracted to the idea of earning quick money.

If everyone make similar assumption like Jamie's, I believe none of them will have notice the pain behind the victims' smile. No help will ever be offered to the victims if the communities are unaware that sex slavery actually exist in the form of human trafficking in today's society. Some of the people could not be bothered to care because it is just none of their business. All they wanted is to have some 'fun', even at the expense of others' misery.

As a result, most of the victims would be reluctant to discuss about their horrific ordeals with their customers or to anyone who wish to help them. Instead of speaking up and fight for themselves, they would have chosen to suffer silently in pain as they fear that it might bring them greater horrors. Many of them have been threatened, tortured, abused and beaten when the traffickers discovered that they have spoken to someone about their plight. They have no one to trust and could not trust anyone because they have been once betrayed.

Some of you might ask why the law enforcement agencies have failed to detect human traffickers' movement and activities in their countries and across borders. This is largely due to the presence of corruption in the law enforcement and legal systems.

"The older police in the group glanced at me with mild amusement, and I could see from the look on his face they were not here to help us"

The stench of corruption in the human trafficking industry, it really anger me. If the border police and police officers are not bribed and have chosen to turn a blind eye on the victims, human trafficking could be stopped. Even though they knew what was going on, but they just could not care more about it. Even worst, some of them also took their turns to exploit the victims. What if such horror happens to their daughters too? Would they feel happy too?

So. when there are people who are willing to pay for such commercial sex acts, this became an incentive for the traffickers to go against the laws and make the profits they desired. Even though the cost of sleeping with a sex slave is relatively low, sex trafficking remains a highly profitable business as the traffickers do not have to pay their slaves a single cent. This would mean that all the income generated from the business will go directly to their profits.

A business with just revenues but no cost. Isn't human trafficking a very lucrative business for most businessmen?

What Could Be Done?

We ask ourselves what we could do to stop human trafficking. Well, we could not unless the demand for sexual exploitation against the women is no longer present.

However, we could help to increase the awareness of human trafficking in our communities by writing a book, articles, posters or even songs. Campaigns could be held to educate the public on the dangers and indicators of human trafficking. This would warn the public, especially the young women not to trust and fall into the trap of the traffickers easily.

Petitions could also be signed to request for stricter laws to be implemented to prosecute the traffickers. More stronger and completed safety nets could also be built to track down and combat human trafficking activities across countries. With stricter law enforcement, human trafficking will no longer remain a high-profit, low risk business.

An increased awareness in the public would also mean that more young women could be saved before everything is too late. Your strength might be small, but together, I believe we could make a difference. Just like what Sibel Hodge has done and for that, I sincerely gave her all my applauds.

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